Millennials love to travel. We dream of climbing mountains in Tibet, surfing in Fiji, and tasting wine in Italy. As the world has become flatter, we board airplanes, jump on trains, and hop into cars to see what it has to offer.
Our bookshelves are filled with books like ‘Wild’ and ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ that describe finding one’s self while travelling. The bodies of our generation are tattooed with images of compasses, maps, and anything having to do with “wanderlust.”
Traveling is supposed to be the solution. To learn about yourself, you must travel. To help other people, you must travel. To understand the world, you must travel. To be a better person, you must travel.
This is the message we hear over and over again. You will not be complete until you’ve seen the world.
From the time I studied abroad in Bulgaria in 2011, I’ve had an itch to travel more. Since then, I’ve lived in Yellowstone National Park, taken several road trips across the United States, and joined Peace Corps. Personally, I love to travel.
But travelling doesn’t make me whole.
Although I do want to learn more about myself, help other people, understand the world, and become a better person, travelling will not achieve that for me.
Travelling is not the solution to life, it is simply one of many means of reaching the end.
Throughout my life, I’ve had many friends who don’t like to travel. For so long it baffled me. How can you be happy living and working in the same small town in which you were born? How can you be content without leaving your own backyard? How can you find joy without experiencing the world?
I didn’t know that everything you could want to obtain in life can be realized without running off to far corners of the globe.
Instead of turning their backs on their family and friends, many people decide to live beside them. Surrounded by those who love you, these people find happiness. Life is short, why not spend time with those you love?
Many times, I’ve travelled in hopes of finding myself. Usually, I’ve become more lost. Moments when I learn the most about myself are when I return home from a trip.
When I’m at home is when I’m the most helpful to people around me. Instead of needing to manage language and cultural barriers, I’m free to simply help those around me.
The world is best understood from the ground, but you don’t need to dash off to the far reaches of the globe to grasp the workings of our earth. The world is happening all around you. Your neighbors, coworkers, and running partners are just as much a part of this planet as a farmer in Senegal, a businessman Saudi Arabia, or teacher in South Korea.
If travelling is the only way to become a better person, why is the world filled with terrorists, rapists, and corrupt politicians? Now, more than ever, people are travelling both for business as well as pleasure. Maybe if these people just stayed in their own backyards, they’d be less of a problem for society.
As a millennial who loves to travel, I’m not condoning travelling. Seeing the world is a lot of fun and I probably won’t stop anytime soon. But it’s not the answer to all of life’s challenges.
You can learn about yourself, help others, understand the world, and become a better person without leaving your backyard.
Sometimes the best journeys happen off the road.